inBloom: corporatizing America's schools

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All of this sounds nice –– even ideal –– until you get to the privacy policy. In the first paragraph of Section E, titled “Breach Remediation,” it states, “inBloom, Inc. cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

According to Class Size Matters, a New York City-based nonprofit educational-advocacy group, the highly sensitive information that could be hacked includes students’ names, addresses, race, ethnicity, economic status, grades, standardized test scores, disciplinary and health records, and disabilities.

In short, nearly everything that defines a student.

Class Size Matters notes, in its “New York State inBloom, Inc. Fact Sheet,” that all information that is handed over to inBloom will be collected in a “data store” with an operating system built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corporation, which is owned by billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Class Size Matters goes on to say that “inBloom intends to make all this highly confidential data available to commercial vendors to help them develop and market their ‘learning products.’”

In the past, students’ confidential information was solely under the purview of school districts and state education departments, rather than third-party corporations that do not answer to the people. In 2011, however, the federal Department of Education, under Secretary Arne Duncan, an Obama appointee, relaxed privacy statutes, granting access to outside parties such as inBloom.

By the way, 2011 was the same year that inBloom was conceived.

As a parent of two school-age children, I am beyond concerned. I am furious. The government has an absolute responsibility to ensure students’ privacy –– and it is abdicating that responsibility to a corporation that admits that security breaches are possible.

Moreover, computers should not be responsible for individualizing instruction. Teachers and principals should. They are the professionals, and should be treated as such. Educators worth their salt do not need a corporation to dictate classroom learning.
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